How to teach surgical pathology when you do not have surgical specimens.

I was teaching undergraduate surgical pathology at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) from 2013 to 2017. I was training to be a pathologist but did not complete my training (that is another story to tell!).

And being expected to teach the anatomical pathology course to medical students without good specimens and equipment was very stressful to say the least. So I resorted to using a lot of web based resources. The MBBS course at UPNG SMHS is problem based so the lecturers are followed by a lab session.

A great resource that I frequently used was the Pathology Image bank housed by University of Utah.

I also did not have slides to show tissue changes at the cellular level so for that I also used a lot of images from the internet.

So I have been wondering if teaching medical students using virtual tools prepare them to be good doctors? Is there any difference in the quality of training using real surgical specimens compared to using digital specimens? I would be grateful for any feedback on this.

Maintaining surgical specimens for medical training in countries like PNG where funding challenges are a major limiting factor, can reduce the quality of medical training. And internet based resources can be a way out for small medical schools in other developing countries. I would love to hear from any teachers of surgical pathology.


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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